Hook, Line and Sinker

The first 5 seconds of your video is critical. It’s the hook that keeps people watching. Grab them, and you’ve given yourself the best chance they will listen to your message. Lose them, and the time and energy you put into your video is wasted with a single ‘skip’.

We’ve put together some of our favourite examples of attention grabbing, funny, and novel 5-second hooks…

1) Kmart – ‘Ship My Pants’

‘Ship my pants. Right here? Ship my pants, you’re kidding.’

Loving the cheeky wordplay. Not only did the ad keep viewers intrigued but it also subtly reinforced Kmart’s move to online as opposed to in-store selling. Great ad, worthwhile message, 21+ million views. Can’t argue with that.

2) Victor Frankenstein

‘If you hit skip, 30,000 volts will electrify and kill Daniel Radcliffe.’

Trailers usually take a while to build up. You know, starting with that booming James Earl Jones-style voiceover and several incongruous images collaged together before they actually get to the point. Victor Frankenstein used actors James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe in witty, clever introductions to the existing trailers, and referenced the fact that the viewer isn’t clicking ‘skip’.

3) Reed

‘I’m James Reed, and you’re procrastinating on the interweb because you hate your job.’

If you were ever skeptical about video ads driving results, reed.co.uk will persuade you otherwise. Their ad received the highest ever click through rate on a YouTube ad and Reed saw web traffic increase by 13%.

Reed is a great example of constructing the perfect ad; the first 5 second has the hook, in this case addressing the user directly (while they are bored at work) and a joke about cat videos. They have branding up-front (emblazoned on his t-shirt), and they used the same boisterous character they had in their TV ad. But they didn’t just upload their TV ad and hope for the best. Instead, they created an ad specifically designed for online, and it worked perfectly.

4) British Heart Foundation

‘My name’s Vinnie Jones, and I’m gonna teach you a lesson you’ll never forget.’

The British Heart Foundation got straight to the point when they used one of Britain’s favourite tough guys Vinnie Jones to ‘bully’ the user into listening. The campaign was so successful that they even created follow up videos about how the ‘Vinnie Jones CPR ad saved my life’, and school-friendly versions with a ‘Mini Vinnie’.

5) Geico

‘You can’t skip this Geico ad because it’s already over.’

…so what’s left of the ad for those who stick around? Just a dog causing mayhem eating food off the table. Or two men freeze-framing while shaking hands in a lift. Or a man’s shoe catching fire mid-air at a barbeque. Yeah, you’ll probably want to watch this one til the end, and that’s the sign of a great ad.


Have you got any ideas for a YouTube ad with a great hook? Get in touch and let us know if you need any advice or support for creating a campaign.